Is Your Home a Fire Hazard?
- Feb 21, 2023
Your home isn't just bricks and mortar; it’s also made up of memories formed with the people you love. Safeguarding your home is therefore as much about protecting the tangible structures as it is about protecting the intangible souvenirs of the past.
We often think about safeguarding our homes from break-ins (smart digital locks, anyone?), but there's another aspect we don't consider—fire safety.
If you’ve kept up with the news, there have been a ton of reports on homes in Singapore getting razed leading to unnecessary property damage.
A PMD fire broke out in this Sembawang flat in Nov 2021. Residential fires not only can cause a loss of life but also damages to properties and the memories we hold dear. Image courtesy of Dr Lim Wee Kiak. Source: The Straits Times.
There were 1,010 residential fire incidents back in 2021¹, according to the Singapore Civil Defence Force’s (SCDF) latest statistics. The top cause? Unattended cooking.
Even if you don't leave cooking unattended, your home isn't guaranteed to be safe from fire. Electrical fires such as ones caused by faulty appliances or overloading of sockets and fires caused by household contents were the second and third most common causes of residential fires in Singapore respectively.
A short circuit caused a fire in this Toa Payoh flat, razing the flat’s contents to an unrecognisable state.
Potential ‘hot spots’ at home
Reducing bad practices and identifying potential areas at home that can cause a fire can help safeguard your house and the contents within. See if there's any area in your home that's a fire hazard:
Service Yard/Laundry Room
Study Room/Home Office
As you can see, our home is a hotbed for fires. While we can take steps to minimise the fire risks, there's always the possibility of something happening beyond our control.
And when that does happen, just having fire insurance isn't going to be much help, emotionally and financially.
Fire insurance not enough: it does not cover everything!
A lot of us think we are protected just because we have fire insurance. Unfortunately, fire insurance only covers the bare minimum, essentially the damages done to the four walls of our home. That means all the renovation works, furnishings and appliances that form a big part of your home aren't covered.
For those on a housing loan with HDB, the fire insurance scheme we are obliged to take up only covers fire damages to the internal structures, fixtures as well as areas built and provided by HDB. It does not include home contents such as furniture, renovations and personal belongings. So, unfortunately, HDB isn't going to replace your Japanese toilet if it was destroyed in a fire.
Bare minimum: Fire insurance does not cover your carpentry works or the furniture you've purchased yourself.
For those living in Management Corporation Strata-Titled (MCST) properties i.e. private condominiums, the fire insurance is handled by your Management Committee (MC) and usually just covers the property damage caused by a fire and will unlikely cover any improvements or renovations done by you. If you are taking up a mortgage loan from a bank for your home, the fire insurance also has minimal coverage.
This also applies to those who own landed property. If you do decide to get fire insurance for your landed home, keep in mind that it will only cover your property's main structure and not any of the contents within your home.
Not all home insurance is made equal
You will have to get home insurance for more comprehensive coverage to protect your renovation works and home contents. No one home insurance covers the same things, so it’s important that you read up on the details and fine print before signing up with any policy.
To help restore your home to its original state and keep your memories intact, consider Income’s Enhanced Home Insurance.
Their policy provides pretty comprehensive coverage, covering aspects such as your house building, its contents and renovations against fire, burst pipes, theft and more. It even covers damages accidentally caused by you to your neighbouring homes! Policy terms and conditions apply.
To enjoy peace of mind, Income also provides complimentary 24/7 Emergency Home Assistance, where you can reach out to them for help in the event of a home emergency such as plumbing, electrician, locksmith, pest control or air-conditioner repair—no more panic Googling!
Pro tip: When getting a home insurance policy, it’s really important to make sure you are not under- or over-insured. The former will mean your damages aren’t completely covered (which means you won’t get the full sum of what you'll need to reinstate your home), while the latter can mean you are overpaying for your insurance.
Find out how much insurance coverage you may need for your home through this handy calculator.
What else can you do to protect your family, your home and the memories you’ve made?
Now that you’ve removed the potential fire hazards at home and purchased for yourself home insurance, what’s next?
You may also want to equip your home with the following to further safeguard your home:
- A smoke detector: Homes built after June 2018 would have come installed with a smoke detector. If you don’t have one installed, consider installing one as a smoke detector can help prevent a fire from spreading. The recommended types come with a built-in battery that can last at least 10 years. It will also need to comply with European, Australian or American standards for fire alarms - EN 14604, AS 3786 and UL 217.
- A dry chemical powder fire extinguisher: While not mandatory, SCDF recommends each household keep a dry chemical powder fire extinguisher that is certified by a Certification Body accredited by the Singapore Accreditation Council (see here for more information). This is effective for fires involving ordinary combustibles (e.g. wood and rubber), flammable liquids (e.g. oil and paint) and electrical equipment.
- A fire blanket: This can be placed over small fires or wrapped around yourself to provide insulation if a fire breaks out in your home.
This article is sponsored by Income. For more information about their Enhanced Home Insurance, visit https://www.income.com.sg/enhanced-home-insurance.
¹ Fire, Emergency Medical Services and Fire Safety Enforcement Statistics 2021 – SCDF
All opinions expressed here are those of Renonation and not of Income Insurance Limited (“Income”). The information provided here is for general information only and does not constitute an offer, recommendation, solicitation or advice to buy any product(s). You should seek personalised financial advice before you purchase any insurance product. Renonation is responsible for the accuracy and completeness of all information provided and intellectual property used in this article. Income is not responsible nor liable to any party for the content of this article and intellectual property used in this article. Buying insurance that is not suitable for you may impact your ability to finance your future insurance needs. Precise terms, conditions and exclusions of this plan are found here. This plan is underwritten and issued by Income.
Protected up to specified limits by SDIC.
Information is correct as at 21 February 2023.
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